Will You’re listening to THIS IS HOW. A podcast about people forging digital careers for people who are taking the time to figure things out.
Zoe Whether you’ve just left school, college or uni or you’re already in a job, but you’re not really feeling it. We’ve made a podcast series full of tips, ideas and free advice from people who have been on similar journeys, change things up and gone on to work in digital roles with some of the most interesting brands in the UK.
Will I’m Will Stowe, proudly from Hackney an ear and shoulder to those around me. I work for SNKRS as a co-host on SNKRS Live, we have regular live streams to talk all things sneaker culture. I also write poetry, make music and throw parties in my spare time.
Zoe I’m Zoe Malatt. I’m a life coach and radio show host. My coaching focuses on helping people figure out where they are, where they want to be, and then we work out how we’re going to get them there. I also have a radio show on Foundation FM, which allows listeners to message in with all their problems, and my guests and I offer our professional advice and tips live on a mix with some bangers.
Will So we’re here on THIS IS HOW podcasts. We got Sam from snap and I’m going to let him introduce himself so I don’t do him any injustice
Sam Yeah well, first off, thanks for having me. So Sam Bevan, I’m the director of Snapchat’s Emerging EMEA business and kind of a lot of people like what is emerging as emerging is looking after Start-Up Brands, digital disruptors in the advertising space so working with some really cool, disruptive brands across the region and yeah been here for just over five and a half years now. And my background before that was at Facebook and Google before that was kind of a couple of start-ups myself and a whole mishmash of random sales jobs, accounting and all of that jazz. So yeah really excited to be here.
Zoe And we are going to get into all of that in more detail. But first, we are gonna play our favourite game, two truths and a lie.
Will Feel like we need like a little jingle,
Zoe Like a little tune? i’m gonna laugh now but I was gonna whistle.
Will Yeah? I think you need to work on that one. i think you need to work on it a little bit.
Zoe We’ve been really good. We started off the season like not doing so well, but now we’re on it. No pressure again.
Sam OK, well, first off, I was brought up in India. Next one was I used to play Adele at badminton, and then the final one is I got to the final twenty of The Apprentice series four.
Zoe Oh, these are good. All very good. Was Adele good at badminton?
Sam Yeah, not really. She could have written some pretty tragic songs about it, to be honest
Will Well, OK. And then apprentice. That’s a tough one because you said, what was your background outside of social media and the tech businesses?
Sam Well, I just did a kind of load of internships, mish mash of different things. So tech’s what I’m know for, I’d say.
Zoe I think The Apprentice is true
Will the India one as well though, don’t forget about that.
Zoe Whereabouts in India?
Sam Towards the southern tip in a place called Bangalore.
Will What did your parents do for work?
Sam My mum’s a teacher and my dad is an accountant.
Will The India one is so mad. So which one do you think’s a lie?
Zoe I think the India. Or maybe, maybe the Adele one is,
Will I’m gonna support you and say that’s a lie as well
Zoe now now I’m now questioning myself. OK, I think I think actually the Adele one’s the fib.
Sam It is Adele was a fib.
Will Tell us about India.
Sam Yeah, no it was great. I was aged four to nine out there. And then I went back when I was 18 for a year as well. Originally went because my dad’s job. And yeah, it’s amazing to be brought up in a very different culture to the UK. Again, i’s a beautiful place and highly recommend everyone to go visit.
Zoe OK, so let’s go. Let’s go back. Were you one of those kids who was always selling stuff in the playground?
Sam Not necessarily selling stuff, but always trying to find ways to make money. So, yeah, at school I was heading up a couple of big young enterprise type programmes and then at home, I was always finding ways to fix things and do gardening jobs, tasks like that cleaning cars or whatever it needed to be. So always someone who’s been driven to make a bit of spare cash on the side.
Zoe Where do you think that like that came from? Like that drive?
Sam I think a lot of it’s probably the way I was brought up. I think in India. It was, yeah, a country that going through a lot of change at the time and you’re just surrounded by people who are trying to make themselves better, continue being grateful for things like their
education. And I think for me, I struggled at school quite a bit and it was something which I always just found passion was getting my hands into something, doing something which didn’t necessarily need me to be reading a textbook. And yeah, I always had that kind of strive to not necessarily do the best academics, but push myself in different ways.
Will And then what about in the classroom? What you like at school? Were you a troublemaker, calm kid? What were you like?
Sam Well, depends who’s listening? I didn’t come out on this one. I was someone who is big into helping the local community, which got me a lot of brownie points in school, so I did a lot with the student council. I ended up heading that up as well as things like the Eco Council, where I was always trying to help the school progress and through a number of different causes, which got me a lot of brownie points with the leadership. But I did also get sent to their doorstep quite often. So I think, yeah, we’re discussing for the show I’m dyslexic so struggled a bit with some of the core subjects, and at times that led me being a little bit mischievous more than I wish to admit now. But yeah, I always had enough brownie points in my back pocket to charm my way into not getting into too much trouble.
Zoe Perfect balance.
Sam Whether they agree or not, I don’t know.
Zoe So did you. Did you have a big plan or did you do A-levels?
Sam Yeah, I think I came from I was very fortunate and privileged to come from a very academic background family. And so. I think at first, my parents actually quite struggled with what to do with me because unlike my brother and sister, I wasn’t naturally just getting straight A’s stars and A’s at school. And then when it came to A-levels and AS levels, I think now is probably the first time I learn exactly where I need to kind of focus myself because originally chose a bunch of subjects which I thought looked good on paper, but actually I wasn’t good at, and I very quickly noticed that if you want to do well as something, you really need to be passionate about it. And so then I think school taught me a lot of important life lessons, which I’m glad they happened then than I do now. But yeah, really didn’t have like a big my big plan originally was to go into accounting because that’s what I thought was the right thing to do, because that’s what my dad did. My brother did my uncles and my aunt, his dad. But yeah, for someone who can’t really do maths to the highest ability was never really going to be a career for me.
Zoe And so when did you when did you realise that you you wanted to kind of make sure you were doing something that you were passionate about? And that was kind of the more important thing.
Sam Yeah, I think for me, the again, the life moment, which still, to be honest, gives me nightmares and gets me up now and then is getting my AS results where Jesus is. I was fortunate. I kind of floated by did pretty well. I didn’t revise at all, but I seemed to get some pretty decent grades, which was great. But then with AS levels, I went in thinking I knew it all. I could just swan in, get there. And I do remember that year being in a lot of lessons being like, I’m not getting this stuff. This is bad. And then, yeah, and the I remember getting those results. I remember I actually walked out of one of my exams. And so for maths, I knew it was going to be a tough one that I was going to have to face the parents on. And so I remember opening that envelope in the carpark of the school and first grade
maths was an E and I was like, Oh, don’t know how am I going to face to face mum on this one? And then I remember scrolling up and geography, which I actually thought did quite well in that paper was another E! And I was like, Oh gosh, this is not not the trend that I’m expecting. And then history went up to a D and as I was like shoot. And then economics, which for someone who’s always been quite again, this is a classic example where I did economics because I thought it sounded more intelligent on paper than business. Yeah. And then, yeah, it was another E there. And yeah, I remember having to go see my head of sixth form where. To be honest, I wasn’t really meant to come back based on those grades to finish my A-levels because they were just too low. But like I said, this brownie points of being a bit of a goody two shoes and other parts of school. Let them give me a second chance. But that was a real eye opener of I need to find things that I’m passionate about, that I need to put effort into learn because otherwise, yeah, it’s just going to be a flunk.
Zoe OK. And then what subjects if you switch to then?
Sam So unfortunately, the way the system set up, I had to kind of drill down and stick to those subjects. And yeah, it was one of those ones where I also learnt that perseverance and if you really put your head to it, even if you don’t love it in the time, you can grasp the basics. And so, yeah, and I remember that January I had to sit, I think of something crazy, like 22 exams back to back. So resit everything from the year prior and then do that half exams and you have managed to recover my grades a bit to get me into university, which was the main thing. But you know, as soon as I got to university, I switched instantly just to doing business. And then, yeah, well, three years later, I graduated with a first class honours, which I think it showed that again, someone who I don’t call myself an academic in the slightest bit of show business passionate doing a subject I cared about, I could still do well in it.
Will Let’s talk internships. What did you do? And yeah, which one year? Which ones? You do want to do that?
Sam I a shocking amount of internships. I think about five or six, and this was all in space like two years. I think when I was in university, I had that penny drop moment. My dad had already told me, like, you’re probably not going to be an accountant. You need a maths grade for that. And he always floated the idea of sales or marketing in my eyes. And I think with sales, marketing, they’re such broad areas of business. And I think when people naturally think of sales, they think of like used car salesmen, which don’t get me wrong, is a great career but it’s not one which I kind of was naturally inspired by. And so what I wanted to do is really understand different aspects of sales, consulting, marketing. And so, yeah, I did. My first one was what I actually noticed was the hardest was getting the first internship because every internship wanted you to have experience, which I think is something which I hear from a lot of young people is still happening today and makes my blood boil because I was someone who was constantly being rejected. The first some ways, like I said in India, where I went over and learnt about software sales and SAS sales. And again, that was just amazing because I just saw a real, thriving environment of people working in not gonna lie not so great conditions. Hustling and driving and making their way through the world and progressing, and that really got my blood pumping that I was like, I want to be in like an engine room came out to the UK. Wanted have one more time to look at finance, so I did a finance internship at a charity. Probably the worst summer of my life, it was just no offence if they’re listening were amazing people. But blimey, I as literally I remember. Putting expenses into our system from paper to digital
access before all these softwares existed and then are auditing people’s miles and how much gallons they used and what again, I remember just making up half the forms because I couldn’t be bothered to do the maths. I’m so sorry if you’re listening. Probably made some mistakes there and then moved into a great opportunity selling insurance to kids. So Endsleigh insurance so students to get their bikes insured their phones insured. And that was just an amazing experience because it was field sales. You weren’t behind a phone. You were literally meeting people face to face as they were arriving for their first days at university. Make sure that they’ve got all their equipment fully insured, their bikes insured, the helmets insured. And yeah, learn a lot in that around every penny counts. Because at the time I remember, it was kind of funny being like, why do I care if someone’s got their helmet insured? Like, what is 50p on top of their excess? Like, is that really going to make or break my quota? Or is it really going to change the performance of our region? But you very quickly realised a lot of these companies the power of numbers. So yes, that 50p deal, you times that by two thousand students every single month. Yes, it starts adding up and then because that got me into Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which great graduate scheme, I think a lot of people do it. But yeah, it was a bit of an odd one. I was wearing a suit cleaning cars, which wasn’t quite what I thought it was signing up to. But I think with that one, it taught me customer service is key. A company in which I think rental companies. I think people have got their opinions on them, but that was a company which really knew in order to get people to trust them. It was all about that front of face. How you greet meet clients and they even have things like the phone can only ring twice type policy teaching you that people want you to be responsive. The urgency and so I think all of these internships in their own different ways kind of helped shape me, mould me. And as much as I take the mick out of some of them now, honestly, very grateful to all those companies who gave me a chance because they’re really taught me different aspects of business in very different ways.
Zoe And you know, you mentioned that and still apparently like this today. It is really hard for young people to get internships because they need experience. And when you don’t experience it, it’s really hard. What advice can you give to young people who maybe don’t have any experience at all? And they like they’re trying, they’re applying and they’re not seeming to get much of a response?
Sam Yes, great question and a mentoring a couple of kids at the moment. And I think it’s two things one, don’t give up. I think it’s. Well, to put it bluntly, I applied for 56 internships and got rejected from all of them in my first year. So I think perseverance does play into it. I say the other thing which I say to a lot of young people is if you if you’re fortunate to have connections, even if it’s not for the sexiest job in the world working for this small, tiny charity, like I said, moving numbers from one piece of paper to another. But just getting that first piece of experience on your CV allows you to build off and elaborate and go from. And so I think often people, when they think their internship, they always think, Oh, I need to do it at this amazing big company. But that’s not the case. Your first internship, just get something on paper. Get any experience as experience. Like I said, you can learn something from all of them. And so I think perseverance and not to, don’t really want to say snobby but don’t turn yourself off. It may be opportunities that seem smaller on paper, because actually, sometimes the smaller companies that I’ve had the fortune of partnering with or working with are the ones I’ve learnt the most from.
Will What do you look for interns at Snap?
Sam I think the number one is someone with passion and someone who wants to fundamentally learn and make a change. And I think that can be a multitude of different ways. But I think when I meet candidates, first thing I want to know about them as a person, what gets them motivated, why they’re applying for this job and what is it about this opportunity in particular that really interests them. The amount of interns that turn up to interviews and they don’t actually really know the job that they’re applying for, they haven’t done their basic research. And I just think if you want to stand out, come knowing something about the company that you like, think it’s cool, something that gets you out of bed to work here and then two. I think that like a sign that overarching what is about that job in particular that you hope to learn from. It doesn’t have to be a big elaborate reason, but just something because I think that’s the question we should probably see the most people trip up on is not having not ‘why this company’ or ‘why this opportunity’?
Zoe So when you were doing your own internships, what was it that you were doing that helped you create a good impression?
Sam I’m a very competitive person, and so whatever I was doing, I always was trying to be the best. And so if I was cleaning cars in a suit, my cars were going to look the best on that forecourt. And I think it was just took pride in my work and always asking for feedback. People often say I asked for feedback and don’t get it. But the thing I always challenged were, are you actually listening? The amount of times people get feedback and they don’t necessarily listen to it or ask people to build on? And so I think for me, if my intention is what I’ve got some really good advice from a mentor of mine at the time where he was just like, no matter how big a job, bigger or smaller job, make sure you take pride in it. You learn from it and ask people how you did at it. I think it was just really good feedback that I’ve taken to everything that I’ve done in my career so far.
Zoe So as well as like the big jobs that you had at Facebook, Google, Snapchat? Were there any other jobs that you were doing in between them?
Sam So a university, I was at school. I set up my own little thing, which taught me a bit of my entrepreneurial flair. God, it was a while. It was actually a magazine promoting services for kids. So driving instructors tutors, school students directory. And then I know I’m still sold on the idea and did that for a couple of years. And yeah, it had some reasonable success won a couple of awards and things like that. I just, yeah, I think for me, I’ve always tried to do a couple of things on the side, and at the moment my job is quite busy. And so what I’ve really tried to do now is where I spend my time is actually partnering with a lot of charities, a lot of NGOs to learn other skills, which maybe I won’t gain in the corporate world.
Zoe And have you done any additional training over the last few years, like out of university?
Sam Yeah, I think training’s a fun one where I think everyone always assumes it has to be like a formalised course. And I have been fortunate to do quite a few courses, be it on managing people right the way through to sales, coaching, sales, training, motivational X-Y-Z. But I think for me, the best training I’ve always got has been on the job. I think that maybe again leading into my dyslexia a bit. I’m not someone reading from a book and taking much in. I think it’s going back to the always asking for feedback, whatever you’re doing. I think that’s the best training you’re ever going to get. And my manager, who I’ve been very fortunate to always have an amazing set of managers and my current
manager’s just been incredible and always been very open. Give me feedback and also me being receptive to receive feedback that maybe I don’t want to hear, but it’s going to change me for the right ways. And so I think with training, I always. I think there are amazing courses out there, I think X-Y-Z, don’t want to list all of them, but for me, I was think the best training’s been on the job that constant feedback loop because again, you’re in your career for 30, 40 years like you can constantly be learning regardless of. Yeah, that time period.
Will I’d say just listening to everything you said, you clearly have like a great level of self-confidence and I feel like you reflect and very self-aware as well. But you said you had like a line of managers, is there like any mentors that you had like? And I’m sure the managers would fall into that as open as any particular mentor that you had, that I’ve helped you along the way.
Sam Yeah, I think my, pretty much all of my former bosses have turned out to be mentors for me at some point. I think before this call, I was discussing with you in the past, I’ve got a bit of philosophy of mentors where similar to friends, you had them for a reason, a season or for life. And I know. So I think it’s originally used for a Buddha way of looking at friendships, but I think you can apply it to your mentors where I think a lot of people go out there looking for a mentor and don’t really allow themselves to find mentors in an organic fashion. I think for me, yeah, my former manager’s at Snap, Radhika Kakkar, who’s been with me at the company for pretty much my entire time, there hasn’t managed me for the last four, has always been like a safe haven for me to really actually be like, Hey, I’ve got a lot going on my mind, I just need someone to listen. I need you to. Take this in. Digest it, not judge me. And then also be my biggest cheerleader when maybe I’ve got a bit of self-doubt, bit panicked about something and then my current manager’s another great example of just someone who’s constantly there to ideate, brainstorm and help me solve problems. And so I think you can tell that just my last two mentors I’ve started working with, all playing very different reasons for their support. And then I’ve got life mentors where I’d kind of put my parents into that bucket, but I’ve got one of my teachers who I still stay in contact with a lot where again, don’t really speak to them, probably every six months or so. It’s not like a frequent connection. But when we do, it’s almost like a life check where I’ve got to with certain things and holding me accountable to goals that I set myself and I had some amazing coaching about a year and a half ago, two years ago, where they encouraged me to write a letter to myself at the beginning of each year of at the end of the year where I hope to have achieved, and I noticed actually one that process I highly recommend. It sounds cheesy, but it does get into a good mindset at the beginning of the year but I realise I’ve actually already been doing that with a couple of my mentors, where I catch up with them ‘Oh so the last time you talked about you were going to move back to London, has that happened yet? If not, why not? I mean, you clearly want to be closer to your family. That was something important to you. Where are you on that journey?’ And so, yeah, I think with mentors, it’s such a broad topic. And for me, it’s always been finding those mentors, appreciating the ones that are there to help you with that at that point in time with the challenge you’re facing, ones who are there for really just being that life coach to be your biggest cheerleader, and then there’s ones which again, are going to be with you for a certain stage of your career when maybe you’re going through a promotion, you’re stepping into management for the first time and they can give you that more proactive day-to-day support.
Zoe Yeah. And we’ve spoken about this a couple times on the podcast before, but when you’re approaching somebody like most of the time, people like helping right and people
like talking about themselves and sharing their experiences. So just being a bit more, I guess a bit brave and just asking people and even like you were saying like going out and meeting people, but like, you can even do that on LinkedIn right? You can just like find somebody who’s got maybe a job that you quite like the look of and just like, DM them and say, ‘I’ve just seen you, I’ve just come across your profile and your experience looks like really interesting. Can I ask you a couple questions?’ And you know, nine times out of 10 people are more like more likely to help out aren’t they?
Sam Well if you think about it, most people on LinkedIn they’re just getting pestered by salespeople like me asking them for things. And so, yeah, I’ve I find it incredibly refreshing. I’ve reached out to people cold where I’ve maybe seen they’ve been in an article. They’ve just got a job, which I’m very interested in finding out more about and then I literally, talking of which, last two weeks ago, I did a piece in Forbes around dyslexic awareness and how companies need to do more in the workplace and shared a little bit about my story there. Overnight, I had about 20 30 kids reach out to me and yeah, five or six of them gelled with them quite well and kinda talking to them semi frequently now or again. Others are just, yeah, it’s a quick ten minute chat wasn’t necessarily going through similar challenges. And again, I’m not saying you’re going to get a response from everyone and again, hold my hands up. I probably haven’t responded to everyone at times, but yeah, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. And I think a lot of people just literally what’s the worst that’s going to happen? There’s going to be a message, maybe slightly cringeworthy because you fanboy or fangirl someone online like the worst. The worst thing that’s going to exist is a message which is sat in some woman’s inbox, surrounded by 100 salespeople pestering them about whether they want this, that that so yeah I 100% agree with you, I think it’s not being afraid to reach out.
Zoe You’ve been listening to this is how created by Nominet and Livity, your essential resource for finding a path into digital careers with the brands that you love. Head over to thisishow.uk to listen to more episodes and discover free training and advice to help you land your dream job. You can also give us a follow on Instagram. Our handle is @thisishow.uk to keep up to date with regular tips and resources to help you on your career journey.
Will Could you break down what your your day to day is like?
Sam Oof, that is a hard one! My team’s across seven different markets, there’s a lot of them, and so naturally, the days don’t necessarily follow too much of a routine. But typically what I try to do is I get up early. I’m a firm believer that get up, have a cold shower, really energise yourself in the morning. I’ve stopped actually have my mobile phone in my bedroom recently, so the first hour is a bit of a tech free zone for me. Apart from, I do blare my Spotify playlist around the house, hyping myself up for the day. This is where I am mortifiedly embarrassed. My music taste as bad, it’s very like 80s.
Will Give it to us, give it to us
Sam And I do love Adele. Hence the fun fact.
Will oh yeah, everyone who doesn’t love Adele?
Sam I think I’m the only one who treats Adele as hype music though.
Will Well, like in the gym and stuff yeah? Sam wherever I can *laughs*
Will That’s quite strong – that’s different.
Sam But I love eighties and all kind of, yeah, very cheesy music. But yeah, morning is very, tech free. Get my mind straight. Take the dog for a walk. If some Tuesdays and Thursdays go to the gym, very much kind of me time, then sit down on my desk. First thing, which I always do is look at my day ahead, really making sure that I’m prioritising what needs to get done that day as opposed to what’s a ‘nice to have’ by the end of day. And I think really separating your day into those two is really important. And the first thing I do is I literally write on I’ve got these obnoxiously big yellow sticky pads on my desk and I write, ‘These are the things you have to get done before you leave tonight’, just to really make sure when I’m constantly checking in and then yeah my day consists of interviewing people to join our team, meeting with clients around, helping them scale on our platforms right the way through to engaging with our community of advertisers in multiple different forums, events, etc. And then, yeah, building strategy structure and helping my team achieve our ambitious goals.
Zoe Sounds like a lot in one day.
Sam Like I said to, I have some days where it will be just full on back to back 15 interviews and then I’ll have other days where I’ll kind of do more strategy and focus and partner with my cross-functional support. So no two days are the same.
Zoe Do you like that, though that It’s like, it’s like super varied?
Sam I think for someone who’s kind of dyslexic and struggles to focus on things. It’s great. But I think, yeah, the risk with it is because I can get very easily distracted is those yellow post-it notes again occasionally. I’ve got a puppy 18 months ago and she occasionally grabs them. And if they get taken in the morning round yeah, 11 or 12, it’s questionable what I’m going to get done. I guess that was my focus, but yeah, very much. Yeah, I love the scrappy nature of it. And I think it just allows you to flex different muscles, different days. And if you’re not feeling something one day, you can shift your calendar about to try. Again, I think with all jobs as tasks which you don’t enjoy doing both. And I think it’s really important work to understand where you get your energy from. And those days which you’re having your lulls don’t do, the crappy tasks are like, move those to days where you’re in your highs and you can just boost them out quickly. And so I think for me, yeah, I also do these have a grid for tasks where ‘makes high impact’ ‘needs to be done’ on this column and then ‘doesn’t make much impact’ ‘doesn’t really need to be done’ and then kind of put all of my job into those quadrants to make sure again I’m doing the right thing at the right time when my head’s in the right place.
Will Course, you spoke a lot about your managers, but for you, what’s it like being a manager?
Sam Yeah, I think it’s it’s humbling. I think it’s one which incredibly privileged to manage. I have some amazing people on my team and I think it’s daunting at first. I think. Yeah, I expect a lot from my manager. And they expect that from me, and I think for me, I’m someone who I can fall into that people pleasing category at times, always trying to make
sure I’m helping them, supporting them, doing the right thing by them. And yeah, I think it’s a fine balance of trying to make sure that you’re there for them, but also looking after yourself so you can be there for them in the right way. And so, yeah, it’s a baptism of fire the first couple of years, making sure you’re doing it the right way. But I think what I’ve learnt very quickly is what people appreciate from their manager is someone who’s just genuine, honest with them, gives them advice and supports them. And I think one things which we talk a lot about, it’s Snap’s philosophy to management is your boss works for you, you don’t work for your boss. And it’s really about how can I enable you to do your job? Not about how can you make Sam look all great singing and dancing. And I think having that mindset is a really great way of building trust and those relationships with your teams.
Zoe I like that. Yeah, I never heard that before
Will I’m gonna tell my boss today, ‘you work for me mate’.
Zoe Let’s talk a little bit more about sales. What are sales skills?
Sam Broad question, but it’s a good question. I think for me, sales skills is ultimately, can you build relationships with people? And can you build trust? I think it’s funny you can see all these webinars, trainings you can go on for sales school and yada yada, and I think there are definitely ways you can sell and shouldn’t sell. But I think ultimately Snap well it’s not Snap sorry, sales boils down to your ability to build trust between people and build relationships quickly. And so I think a lot of what I coach when I’m talking to salespeople is like again – be yourself, be authentic. Bring your energy, bring your passion. If you are talking to someone about whatever product you’re talking selling, you clearly don’t care about it, they’re never going to buy it from you. And so it’s a lot about someone who’s able to yeah have a lot of self-confidence, self-belief and then, more importantly, build quick relationships with people and trust.
Zoe And what does a sales job look like in a tech company?
Sam I think it’s really interesting. A lot of people don’t necessarily think of tech and then, oh, sales. I think they assume everybody’s engineers or they’re doing all the amazing technology projects.
Will That’s what I used to think to be honest. Sam Yeah, exactly.
Will Coding and all that kind of stuff.
Sam And I do not know a word of coding. I wish I did. But yeah, I think sales in tech companies, as you’re ultimately the face the business and you’re trying to help businesses understand how they can use your products and services to scale theirs. And so a lot of what you’re doing is explaining going through giving updates and building partnerships wherever you can for brands to be able to connect with your company. And so I think a lot of what the care that you can build in those partnership networks for the business, I’m making sure you’re helping people understand what your company is doing. And so it’s a lot of information and sharing of knowledge.
Zoe And and what what kind of skills do you look for and what type of like characteristics do you like to see in your in your team?
Sam I think for me. Again, it’s very similar to kind of the interns, I think you’re looking for someone who’s passionate. At the end of the day, if you can’t sell me that you want a job at my company, at the company, then how are you going to sell a product on our behalf? And so I’m looking for someone who’s got that passion, got that fire to want to be there and then ultimately represent your brand with pride. And then I think the other thing which I always really look for in a candidate is someone who’s put themselves in the customer’s shoes for your product. And then when you’re discussing it with them in an interview it’s really bringing to life like, OK, actually if I was a customer, I’d think X-Y-Z. I think this is why us as a company or you as a company would need to do in order to convince me. I think, yeah, the best salespeople are the people who put themselves in the foot of the customer, understand what the customer needs are and leads through customer centric service. And so I think people who bring that mindset into interviews always stand out.
Will That’s really interesting. You said that because we’ve had a few people on the podcast that spoke about services that they’ve use that they’ve now gone to work for basically and talking about, like when they were using it, they were thinking this can be done like this or should be done like that, that kind of stuff, whatever but and ended up working there, which is like quite a full circle thing so yeah they totally understand. It should definitely be seen from a consumer’s point of view, for sure.
Sam And some of our best hires have been ex clients. So I think again, you can very quickly see people who are solution-led, want to solve problems for you. And again, that’s salespeople. You’re taking a company’s tools and you’re solving a problem for that business. And so that will suit people who are very kind of solution orientated.
Zoe Would you say that then, like passion and drive is more important than the actual experience or skills that somebody has?
Sam It’s always going to be a balance for certain roles. However, I am a firm believer that passion thrives through, and I think I’ve got certain examples on my team where probably not hired on paper, the most relevant candidate for the role. However, just their determination, passion and the way the position themselves, we would be crazy not to hire them. And so I think a lot of the time, yes, there are going to be box ticking things that you need as a minimum for a lot of jobs, which you can pro/con analysise that, but I think ultimately what shows through is people who are of to be there and have really thought about how they can drive impact in that role.
Zoe How can you tell if somebody is passionate before you’ve actually seen them? What kind of what do they do to kind of stand out through like a cover letter, I guess, or like an application process?
Sam Again, I think for me, it’s in a cover letter it’s very, very quickly highlighting why that company, what about it’s really exciting them? What about their current experience they think can help solve problems for our partners? And then I think the other thing is a CV, which is very just to the point about how that’s going to actually support and aid my team, and I think one of the things which I love that people have started doing is looking at the job description online and then starting to marry their CV’s language to it. So if we’re saying we want someone who’s customer centric, of course, put on your CV somewhere
where you’ve shown your customer centric, if we’re saying we want x-y-z. Again, not verbatim copy, everything is a bit obvious then but really, it shows that you’ve gone to the effort of really understanding the job, the company, the ethos. And then when you I think one of the other things is when you’re asking questions, one the biggest things is the questions that candidates ask me are often really that make or break for me of how serious they’ve taken the process, how much prep they’ve done, how much they really want and understand the business
Zoe and then anything else that really kind of like stands out on a CV or something that you kind of when you are looking at CVs, you’re looking for a particular thing?
Sam I think the opening statement at the top of a CV is really important where you can get that fine balance of telling us not just about who you are in your academic and non-academic and your professional career, but actually tell us something about yourself. So that kind of opening paragraph that people have at the top of their CVS highlighting maybe some of your passion projects, some things that you’re really inspired by and something that also makes you quite interesting as an individual.
Zoe So this is the part of the episode where we go through your CV and then Will and I decide whether we would employ you in our company that we don’t actually have.
Sam I haven’t interviewed in five and a half years. I’m a bit rusty but let’s see how it goes! Will Let’s kick off with your your best failure.
Sam I think for me, where I learnt the most was when I was first setting up teams in international markets. Didn’t spend enough time really getting to understand the importance of different cultures and making sure that as a company we’re representing ourselves correctly and market, but also for our employers and employees making sure that we are making them feel comfortable and getting the best out of them. And I think it’s a kind of funny example, but it’s one which always sticks with me where I won’t say his name, but first promotion in the business based in the Middle East and doesn’t drink. And also the way that you do delivery in some markets in the Middle East is cash on delivery. And so I ordered him to congratulate him a bottle of champagne. And some cookies. And then when they arrived, he had to one: pay for them two: he then doesn’t drink and then he’s also lactose intolerant. So it was one of these things where someone which I really valued as an employee instantly had that moment of like, ‘Oh, does Sam not know me, understand me. Like, what’s this about?’ And I think it was one of those times where it made me really go back to the drawing board and rethink all of the approach to how we were doing people management in the region, but also changing the content and the way that we’re appearing on stage because it really flagged to me things such as like our content. Certain images don’t work in certain markets, they’re not necessarily appropriate. So languages and phrases, they’re very colloquial in maybe the UK or the US. And it’s funny. We often as a team say, ‘Oh, we’re so US centric, how can we be more global?’ But then what we were doing from the UK was actually saying, ‘Oh no, this is the voice of international’ but the reality is every market’s different. And so I think for me, it’s always been going on that journey now of making sure that every market that we operate in that we’re appearing as locally friendly as possible
Zoe now as a really good one, maybe even one of the best we’ve had, actually. OK, sorry I get too excited.
Sam We’re talking about pay now.
Zoe It’s competitive and you get a £15 lunch voucher every day. Fantastic. What has been
your career highlight?
Sam I think highlight for me has to be some of the success I’ve had with some of my more junior team members, I think, again won’t say their names, but some of the most proudest moments I’ve had is taking some graduates. And then four years later, they’ve turned in some of our best salespeople in the organisation and. Again, as much as I’d love to credit that all down, to me, it’s not the case, it’s more building frameworks, helping them learn, helping them educate and then mentoring them to supporting them into being fantastic business individuals. I think for me building talent and building that next generation who can help me with my job has been something which I take a lot of pride in.
Will Very wholesome.
Zoe What would be your dream project?
Sam Dream project for me would be taking over something that’s a complete mess. I love inheriting stuff which is all over the place, and you can come in and tear at the hymn sheet up and kind of start again. I think often some of the most complex issues tear your hair out when you start with them, but they are the most rewarding when you get it right.
Will I get that, though, because you can kind of feel like you’ve actually done something rather than inherited, like a successful working machine. So I get that.
Zoe And our last question, why should we hire you?
Sam I think I’m an incredibly passionate individual. I think I lead with empathy, but I’m also able to motivate teams and hold them to a high standard. And for me, success is making sure that the business is moving forward, not my own career.
Zoe OK. A strong answer is what do you think?
Will Don’t give away too much. Tom’s thumbing up and all that kind of stuff, but don’t wanna be too excited, I’m joking. No, I think you got the job on this one. That was great. That was amazing.
Zoe It’s an unpaid internship.
Sam Like I said, you can learn from everything.
Will Now those are great answers honestly. Those are great great answers.
Sam Although my dog costs me a lot of money at the moment. So we may need to talk about the salary *laughs*
Will Should we put dog care in the package as well?
Zoe I think for you yeah, we weil. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. It’s been such a pleasure speaking to you. I’ve learnt loads. I think Will’s learnt loads as well.
Will Thank you for having me.
Will You’ve been listening to THIS IS HOW, created by Nominet and Livity. If you’ve enjoyed this conversation and you’re feeling inspired to develop your own digital skills, head over to thisishow.uk where you can find more information on all the helpful tips and advice shared on today’s podcast, as well as try and our new THIS IS HOW quiz to uncover more about what you’re good at and what job roles could be a good match for you.